The Massachusetts Department of
Transportation (MassDOT) announced the Department will be rehabilitating the
surface of the Tobin Bridge and complete required maintenance to improve the
structure which will require lane closures and result in significant traffic
impacts on the Tobin Bridge and Chelsea Curves section of Route 1
beginning April 1.
These impacts will lead to increased travel
times on sections of Route 1 northbound and southbound for drivers and MBTA bus
The Department also released details about
transit options available to travelers such as free fares in the inbound
direction on the SL3 bus line offered at the Chelsea, Bellingham Square,
Box District, and Eastern Avenue stops for the duration of construction. The
MBTA also announced that they will be running additional MBTA Blue Line trains
to additional capacity, and these measures will be funded by MassDOT Highway
Division project funds.
Beginning April 1, lane closures on the
Tobin Bridge northbound will be put in place, although two of three travel
lanes will be open during daytime hours. One of the three travel lanes on the
Tobin Bridge northbound will be open during overnight hours.
Beginning by early May, Route 1 travel lanes
in the Chelsea Curves area will be reduced so that two of three north
and southbound travel lanes will be open in the daytime. One of three north and
southbound travel lanes will be open during overnight hours.
“MassDOT is carrying out simultaneous work
on this infrastructure which was constructed in the middle of the
20th century and hasn’t been rehabilitated since the 1970s in order to
ensure its continued use and reliability and minimize the overall impact on
commuters and the local community,” said Highway Administrator Jonathan
Gulliver. “We thank travelers for their patience as MassDOT begins this
necessary project, and we encourage everyone traveling throughout the Route 1
area to make smart commuting decisions such as considering public transit,
using the appropriate technology apps to find the best route and time to
travel, and building extra time into their commutes to account for potential
The MBTA said they will be offering the free
fares on the Silver Line and the Commuter Rail during construction.
“During construction, free fares are being
offered for Silver Line 3 (SL3) inbound customers at certain station stops and
additional Blue Line train capacity is being added. In addition, public transit
customers will be able to use a CharlieCard to travel between North Station and Chelsea on
the Commuter Rail,” said MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak. “Some MBTA
customers on certain bus routes will experience delays, so we urge riders to
consider taking advantage of these additional travel options being offered
MassDOT’s traffic modeling suggests that on
Route 1 northbound, afternoon peak travel times could increase in duration and
have significant delays. Vehicle backups are expected to extend onto the I-93
ramps, along the Leverett Connector, and towards Rutherford Avenue. On Route 1
southbound, morning peak travel times could similarly increase in duration with
significant delays expected.
MassDOT is carrying out work on the Tobin
Bridge and Chelsea Curves section of Route 1 at the same time so that
these projects will be completed in 2021. If the projects were done at separate
times, drivers would be inconvenienced for additional years. This work will
eliminate the need for weight restrictions and postings, and MassDOT will use
accelerated construction techniques to shorten the overall construction time.
For more information on traffic conditions
travelers are encouraged to:
•Dial 511 before heading out onto the
roadways and select a route to hear real-time conditions.
“http://www.mass511.com” t “_blank” www.mass511.com, a
website which provides real-time traffic and incident advisory information,
access to traffic cameras, and allows users to subscribe to text and email
alerts for traffic conditions.
•Follow MassDOT on Twitter @MassDOT to receive
regular updates on road and traffic conditions.
•Check parking availability at the T’s 8
largest garages @MBTA_Parking.
•Download MassDOT’s GoTime mobile app and view
real-time traffic conditions before setting out on the road.
Ryan Dion has fond memories of his days
growing up in Melrose and traveling to Route 1 to enjoy a steak at the Hilltop.
“Route 1 is my old stomping ground,” said
Dion, who graduated from Melrose High (Class of 1999) and UNH with a degree in
Business and Hospitality. “The old
Hilltop was family dinner most Saturday nights. I remember waiting two hours for
seating in Sioux City, Kansas City, and Dodge City. I use to run around the old
phone booths with my brothers.”
Dion is now the chief operating officer of
110 Grill, which just celebrated its grand opening with a ribbon cutting
ceremony at its newest location on Route 1 in Saugus.
The 110 Grill in Saugus is the restaurant
group’s 18th location and it sits majestically on the former site of the
legendary Hilltop Steakhouse. The ribbon-cutting ceremony featured the lighting
of the iconic Hilltop cactus.
Asked to describe 110
Grill, Dion replied, “110 Grill is upscale, casual, American cuisine in a
trendy, casual atmosphere.”
110 Grill features
steaks, seafood, a variety of sandwiches, salads, and appetizers, as well as
monthly rotating specials that the chefs create.
Appetizers range from $7
to $15. Entrees range from $14 to $30.
Why have the 110 Grill
restaurants – now in three states (Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and New York)
proven to be so popular with diners?
“I believe it’s three
things – great food, great service, and the great ambiance,” said Dion. “What I
love about our concept is being upscale casual, you can come in here in a
business suit and have a $32 ribeye and a bottle of Duckhorn Cabernet, or you
come in shorts and sandals from the beach, sit at the bar and have a burger and
a beer. Either way, you fit in.”
The restaurants seats 155
persons, with a private function room available for lunch, dinner, and cocktail
“We’re absolutely excited
to get to know the local folks,” said Dion. “We have a great crew working here
from Saugus, Melrose, Revere, Lynn, and other area communities.”
110 Grill appears destined to be a huge hit on the local restaurant scene.
The state Department of Transportation (MassDOT) has approved the contract for construction on the Chelsea Viaduct project, with the low bidder being Skanska McCourt at $169.37 million, some 3 percent below estimates for the massive rebuilding project.
A key part of the scope of work identified in the documents includes keeping the Arlington Street on-ramp, an entryway that had been considered for possible removal.
The project was bid out in July, and a Notice to Proceed is expected in January, with substructure repairs starting shortly after that and into the spring of 2020.
The Chelsea Viaduct is the elevated highway that runs from the County Road overpass to just beyond the 4th Street off ramp. The project has been in the planning stages for more than a month.
The scope of the project includes repairing and retrofitting the superstructure underneath the viaduct. That will take the rusted steel beams and retrofit them with new concrete structures that will be decorated with murals.
That work is expected to begin in the early months of 2019 and will proceed through the spring of 2020 – lasting more than a year.
That will be followed by replacement of the superstructure, which is the decking that the cars and road operate upon. That will be replaced primarily through a pre-fabricated bridge pieces that will be lifted into place and secured. Only two small pieces of the Viaduct will require traditional repair techniques. That will be over the railroad tracks and by the 4th Street off ramp.
There will be no traffic impacts on Route 1 during peak travel times. All work will be performed between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. on the substructure rehabilitation.
In the fall of 2020, the superstructure replacement will feature some traffic impacts, as they move three lanes into two lanes southbound and two lanes northbound. There will also be interim ramp closures at that time and some parking impacts as well.
As a part of the mitigation for the community, a new community parking lot will be constructed below the Viaduct to help with downtown parking. There will also be improved lighting and a solid snow fence built around portions of the Viaduct.
Completion is expected in 2021.
MassDOT officials said they are in the process of assembling a Chelsea Task Force that will analyze public transit, vehicular travel and other travel options throughout construction and work to ensure reliable transportation for all. More is expected on that Task Force in the coming months.
A before and after view of the substructure repairs to the Chelsea Viaduct, going from rusted steel to a mural.
New, early morning bus routes on several area MBTA lines began on Sunday, April 1, for a one-year early morning pilot program on the routes.
The pilot will be on the MBTA’s busiest key bus routes serving neighborhoods within the immediate Boston core traveling to downtown Boston, the Seaport, and key stops in between beginning as early as 3:20 a.m. Serving residents who start their work day before many people’s alarms ring, the new routes are part of the MBTA’s continued commitment to expanding offerings for those riders who need them most.
There are nine routes on the pilot, and four of them serve the areas of Everett, Chelsea, Revere, East Boston and downtown Boston. Those routes in this area include:
Route 104 – Lynn Street Revere via Broadway Everett to Sullivan Square.
Route 109 – serving Broadway Everett.
Route 117 – serving Wonderland Revere to East Boston, via Revere, Chelsea and Eastie.
Route 455 – Salem to Wonderland Revere.
“The T’s expansion into early morning bus service will provide an important opportunity for the changing needs of Massachusetts’ workforce,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Throughout this one-year pilot, the MBTA will be able to gather important information about changes in bus ridership and analyze that data to better inform future transportation plans around the Greater Boston area.”
“The launch of early morning service demonstrates that the MBTA is acting on its top priority to put the needs of its customers first,” said Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack. “This new transit option will serve workers who must start their day earlier than most. Other commuters and city residents depend upon these essential workers and the MBTA’s ability to get them to their work places safely and on time.”
The changes also include additional service on existing routes during pre-dawn hours. Some routes will extend beyond their normal end points during the early morning to provide direct service to downtown Boston and Logan Airport, allowing customers to reach those destinations even before trains start running. Early morning service is already a part of the MBTA’s bus service on several routes, but these added services represent earlier and/or extended routes on several bus lines. This expansion is the result of a year-long ridership study and planning initiative at the T, which resulted in the identification of key routes where early morning demand is heaviest.
The Tobin Bridge rehabilitation project will begin next month, and state transportation officials will come to Chelsea to explain the impacts on March 27.
A map of the area of focus for the Tobin Bridge maintenance project that will begin next month. A public meeting on the project has been scheduled for March 27 in Chelsea.
The Tobin Bridge project is separate and distinct from the Chelsea Viaducts project, which has a different timeline and a different area of focus. The Viaduct project will start later next year.
This week, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) is reminding members of the public that work-related activities and traffic impacts as part of the Tobin Bridge Rehabilitation Project are currently expected to begin in April after MassDOT conducts an outreach process to inform the public of project impacts.
A public meeting on this project is currently scheduled for Tuesday, March 27, at the Chelsea Senior Center, 10 Riley Way.
To allow crews and contractors to safely and effectively conduct operations, one lane on the lower deck (Route 1 northbound) will be closed at all times in this area beginning in April and lasting through the end of the 2018 construction season. Overnight off-peak lane closures will be implemented on the upper deck (Route 1 southbound) as operations require during this time.
The Everett Avenue on-ramp will be also closed at all times for all vehicles beginning in late April, and this closure will last approximately one month. Following the re-opening of the Everett Avenue on-ramp, the Beacon Street off-ramp will then be closed for approximately two months. The Fourth Street off-ramp will also be closed for a one-month period, and this closure is currently expected to occur in November 2018. No more than one ramp will be closed at any given time throughout the duration of the project.
This $41.6 million maintenance project involves repairing a section of the deck of the Tobin Bridge which carries traffic between the Charlestown neighborhood of Boston and Chelsea. Work is scheduled to be completed at the end of 2020 with lane closures and traffic impacts occurring during each of the 2018, 2019, and 2020 construction seasons.
Work will include steel repairs to the upper and lower decks, concrete deck work on the lower deck, followed by waterproofing, resurfacing, and installing pavement markings. Operations will also consist of utility installation, installing curbing, paving, constructing a new parking lot under the bridge between Williams Street and Third Street.
The Tobin Memorial Bridge was erected in 1948-1949 and opened to traffic in 1950. It carries Route 1 with three travel lanes northbound on its lower level and three lanes southbound on the upper level. The 36-foot-wide roadway is bounded on both sides by safety walks (2’7″ wide) with steel-pipe railings on each side.
The main structure over the Mystic River is a three-span, cantilevered truss 1,525′ in length. Its center span is 800′ and the maximum truss height is 115′. It provides a navigable waterway opening 700′ wide by 135′ high. A smaller, simply supported warren truss spans the Little Mystic. It reaches a maximum truss height of 65′ and is 439′ long. Its navigable waterway opening measures 340′ wide by 100′ high.
Springtime in eastern New England — now that’s an oxymoron if ever there was one.
This Tuesday, March 20, will mark the official start of the 2018 spring season. In view of the trio of nor’easters that have pummeled us in the past two weeks, thoughts of spring no doubt are dancing in all of our heads as we look to put the recent rough patch of late winter storms behind us.
But being the longtime (and long-suffering) New Englanders that we are, we know that spring is merely an illusion in our sliver of the world.
The weather can be sunny with temperatures in the 60s in the vicinity of Route 128, but for those of us closer to the ocean, we may as well be in another climatic zone altogether. Onshore breezes that blow off the ocean waters, where temperatures still are near-freezing, offset the warm air by at least 10 degrees and the wind itself makes us feel even chillier.
To be sure, there may be a day here or there when the ocean-effect will be of no consequence because the wind will be blowing offshore. On those glorious occasions, we will bask in the warmth of a sunny, 70-degree day. But days such as those, always too few and far between, will be only a tease.
The editor in one of our former sister publications, The Winthrop Visitor, put it succinctly when he wrote these words in 1888: “The season has arrived when Winter and Spring appear to strive for mastery. A day almost like June in its mildness is succeeded by weather that smacks of the Arctic regions, and poor human again assumes his furs and his warmest garments.”
Yes, we can hope for the arrival of an early spring season. But we know from experience that spring truly will not arrive for us for weeks to come.
Shown in blue is the aea that will be worked on by MassDOT.
City Manager Tom Ambrosino and the City Council have submitted an eye-opening mitigation package to the MassDOT to accommodate the upcoming Chelsea Viaduct project – a major rehabilitation project of the elevated highway leading to the Tobin/Mystic Bridge.
The project is slated to be advertised in 2018 by the state.
In a letter submitted this month, City Manager Tom Ambrosino asked for a total of $1.724 million from MassDOT for various items to make up for the construction project.
“As you know the Route 1 viaduct basically bisects Chelsea, running directly through its dens, environmental justice neighborhoods,” he wrote. “Because of its overwhelming presence in the City, substantial and lengthy reconstruction of the Route 1 viaduct will undeniably yield negative impacts for the City’s residents, businesses and visitors and severely diminish the City’s quality of life.”
He said the project would have substantial disruption to the daily lives of Chelsea residents, including middle school and high school students who routinely walk in the Viaduct area to get the school.
MassDOT said it is early in the design stage and looks to be at about 25 percent by the end of the year. It is considering the letter, but had no further comment than that.
“MassDOT is currently in the early design stage, and is in the process of engaging the public in order to develop a comprehensive construction staging plan that will accelerate construction and minimize disruption to the City of Chelsea and commuters,” said a spokesman for MassDOT. “Additionally, MassDOT is in the process of evaluating the letter from the City of Chelsea and as always, will consider all suggestions that avoid, minimize or mitigate impacts to local business, members of the community and to ensure reliable travel throughout the viaduct area.”
One of the biggest asks is $500,000 to fund a decorative lighting program under the Viaduct. Ambrosino said the lots beneath the Viaduct have historically been very dimly lit and subject to blight and criminal activity. The City is asking for post construction lighting that includes typical street lighting, and also a significant public art and special design program.
“As a commanding presence, the City envisions a spatial design and public art involving up-lighting that would enliven this corridor and lessen the negative attributes associated with the highway,” he wrote.
A second ask is for funding in the amount of $300,000 to re-design and renovate the football stadium and Carter Park – which are cut in half by the Viaduct.
Other mitigation measures include surveillance for parking lots, parking lot improvements under the Bridge for the City, improvements to the Fourth Street off-ramp, residential enhancements to homes abutting the bridge, additional crossing guards for school children, and a contribution to a bike-pedestrian path on the Tobin/Mystic Bridge.
City Manager Tom Ambrosino and consultants for the City took their message of a two-way Broadway in the business district to owners of the businesses on Thursday morning, Aug. 31, with Ambrosino saying he would stake his position on the issue.
Members of City government met with business owner from Broadway and the adjacent downtown streets Thursday morning at the Green Street Apartments community room. Kicking off the morning, Ambrosino expressed his great support for the change.
“It is incumbent on me to try to reduce the level of skepticism and outright opposition to this change,” he said emphatically. “That is what I’ll try to do in the coming months…I am 100 percent confident I can do that by doing two things – telling you about the advantages and listening to you…Whatever you think of two-way Broadway – one-way Broadway, that one-way speedway, cannot continue. It is unsafe. It is confusing to pedestrians and motorists and it is counterproductive to businesses and merchants on the corridor.”
Ambrosino stressed he believes that one change can transform the City’s downtown – particularly in terms of easing traffic patterns, eliminating unsafe double parking situations and making it easier for pedestrians to get to businesses.
Ralph DiNisco of the consulting firm Nelson Nygaard said that two-way Broadway is possible from a traffic management standpoint.
He compared it to other communities like Revere and Somerville where the lanes are just as wide and the traffic volumes are far greater.
Having studied the volumes in Chelsea and other communities, Broadway Chelsea handles only about 6,500 cars per day, where other Broadways along the Route 107 corridor handle double that.
“From a traffic operations perspective, two-way Broadway can work,” he said. “The numbers aren’t so high that it’s impossible. It can easily work with some changes. From a big picture, there’s no fatal flaw…If you look at other places, they have converted to two-way, and they are successful…Broadway now is a speedway. Nobody stops going down Broadway. They go faster than you want a car to go in a very busy downtown business corridor with people walking around.”
Police Chief Brian Kyes also spoke highly of the change, saying it would help dangerous situations for pedestrians and prevent double parking of delivery trucks – which allows criminals to shield themselves from police.
“There are a lot of young mothers pushing a carriage and when they come out with a carriage from behind a truck, it’s a very, very dangerous situation,” he said. “I’ve heard the idea for many, many years and we at the police department think it’s a very good idea.”
But business owners weren’t so convinced.
Some, like Roman Gold of Margolis Pharmacy, felt that it could increase traffic and become a cut-through for people trying to avoid Rt. 1 traffic.
“You could start to see a lot more traffic redirected by things like the Waze app from Route 1 to avoid traffic tie-ups further up the road,” he said.
Rick Gordon of Allen’s Cut-Rite said one of the biggest problems for merchants would be deliveries. Many merchants, he said, cannot afford to pay to have deliveries outside of busy times, and he said there isn’t adequate space for delivery trucks in the alley.
“Many people would have to pay $100 or $150 fees for scheduling deliveries,” he said. “I can’t really pass that fee on to my customers and it’s an undue burden on the small business. Many of us do UPS and FedEx only, but some get trailer trucks in periodically…What needs to be done is you need to start by re-striping the parking spots and doing the small things.”
Compare Supermarket owner Al Calvo said he thinks that the delivery problem – which was a great concern – could be solved.
“We’re emphatic with our vendors that there be no deliveries after noon,” he said. “I think there’s a way for us as business people to set the rules. Sometimes my deliveries show up after 2 p.m. and we don’t accept the load. We do have leverage.”
Some were also worried about whether or not the City could enforce the rules well enough, that there would be enough oversight.
Ambrosino said he guaranteed that, if approved, he would make it work.
“We have enough manpower and enough officers that want to work overtime if that’s what it takes,” he said. “I will put my reputation on the line. The City Council can fire me if it doesn’t work. I think it can be that transformative.”
The change cannot be unilaterally implemented. If it is recommended in the overall Re-Imagining Broadway study, it has to be submitted to the Traffic Commission. If approved there, it must go to the City Council for a final approval. At each step, there is plenty of room for public comment.
With school bells ringing for the start of the 2017-18 school year next week and the week thereafter, commuters will have to adjust to the prospect of schoolchildren and school buses returning to our streets.
All of us who drive to work in the early mornings on weekdays have to admit that not having to deal with cumbersome yellow school buses, crossing guards, and children and their parents darting across busy streets was like having a vacation for the past two months, removing a layer of stress from our morning commute.
If you’re like us, you plan your commuting route during the school year depending on the school-bus schedule — if we’re a few minutes late in the morning, we know we have to adjust our route to avoid the buses.
But our break from those travails of early-morning travel is now over — and once again, we must exercise the utmost caution when driving during the morning rush-hour, when everybody is in a hurry to get to school, work, or wherever.
So we ask all of our readers to please be aware that school will be back in session shortly, and that all of us therefore must be on the lookout for children on their way to school.
Taking a few extra seconds — even if those few seconds might turn into a few extra minutes — in order to exercise safe driving and to obey the laws regarding stopping for school buses and yielding to pedestrians in crosswalks pales in comparison to what could happen if our zeal to get to work should result in a tragedy.
The annual Chelsea Girl Scout Parade and Memorial Day Exercises will take place in that order for the fourth straight year, with even more scouts and organizations expected to march in the parade – which is meant to honor veterans and enhance the official exercises at City Hall.
The parade will began around 8:15 a.m. and start at Welch’s Funeral Home parking lot.
The route will proceed down to City Hall, where the official exercises will kick off at the war memorials.
The Chelsea Girl Scouts have grown exponentially over the last few years, and have become a strong supporter of Memorial Day. Acting with local veterans groups, they have been organizing the parade on their own for many months.
“It bears reiterating that none of it would have been possible without the support from our community: The Chelsea Community Fund grant has gone a long way to helping us expose our Girls to the arts,” said Susana Carella of the busy year the troops have had. “TND was instrumental in allowing us to host our first Mother-Daughter Paint Club event on Mother’s Day weekend. We’ve been fortunate to receive generous donations from Zonta Club, Tito’s Bakery and numerous individuals who have contributed supplies and time to our events. Add to that the tireless dedication of the volunteers who donate time, and often money, to leading their troops and it all adds up to an unparalleled community effort. The Girl Scouts Chelsea Memorial Day Parade is the perfect time to unite all those organizations that work in unison to create the sense of community that distinguishes Chelsea from so many other cities. It is our sincere hope that as many of those organizations as possible will come out and march with us.”
Longtime Girl Scout organizer Elaine Cusick said this year will be particularly special as the Scouts will officially welcome the new veterans at the North Bellingham Veterans Home adjacent to City Hall.
“The Girl Scouts are looking forward to hosting another Memorial Day parade,” said Cusick. “It’s especially moving considering that the newly opened veterans’ residential center – the one located in the old American Legion Hall – will have front row seats to the event. It’s a nice welcome to the community for them. Also, for quite some time, Donnie Kingsbury from the Veteran’s Council has helped the girls practice their marching and formation skills.”
The official exercises will begin shortly after the parade contingent arrives at City Hall.